Big impact makes engineering breakthrough | Jobs Vox


A photo taken in September 2021 shows a metal bearing device used for the Shenyang Subway. Chinese Academy of Sciences

China has successfully made its first giant main bearing for tunnel boring machines, a major engineering breakthrough that experts say will help the country reduce imports of a key component for building underground infrastructure such as subways. will allow.

The diameter of the bearing is 8 meters and weighs 41 metric tonnes. According to the Institute of Metal Research of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, it is the largest and heaviest bearing made by China and will be installed on an ultra-giant tunnel boring machine with a diameter of 16 metres.

Li Daianzhong, a researcher at the institute and chief scientist of the project, said tunnel boring machines are equipment of national importance as they are used in the construction of underground and water bodies.

In general, metal bearings are used to reduce friction and wear between the moving surfaces. Many types of industrial equipment, including those used for aircraft engines, cars, high-speed rail and wind turbines, require high-performance bearings.

“Therefore, high-end bearings are vital to the national economy and security, and they represent a nation’s manufacturing capacity in basic components,” he said.

The main bearing for tunnel boring machines needs to withstand enormous amounts of force as the giant equipment digs through the earth, something only a handful of countries have the engineering capability to build.

In 2020, the Chinese Academy of Sciences launched a major research project combining the expertise of seven CAS institutes and more than 20 other companies and organizations to jointly tackle the challenge.

After overcoming 12 key challenges, from material fabrication to design and precision machining, the research team created bearings ranging in size from 3 to 8 meters in diameter for boring machines. The 3-metre version has since been used in subway construction in Shenyang, Liaoning Province.

On September 30, 8-meter bearings passed expert evaluation – they concluded that the performance of domestically manufactured bearings is comparable to imported bearings.

“The creation of the 8-meter bearing is a testament to China’s research and manufacturing prowess,” Li said.


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